When the Dallas Cowboys traded away a first-round draft pick to acquire Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders, they thought he was the star no. 1 wide receiver the team was sorely missing. Nearly 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns later, they were right.
The brain-trust inside The Star guessed right with Cooper as his precision route-running coupled with great burst in the open field has allowed the 25-year-old pass catcher to be an explosive piece in the Cowboys offense. Upon arriving in Dallas in 2018, Cooper helped turn things around as the team went 7-2 with him on the squad, winning the division and making it to the divisional round of the playoffs. Last season, the Cowboys finished .500, but the offense led the entire NFL in total yards. The impact Cooper had on this Cowboys team was clearly felt.
While the Cooper deal certainly has worked out in the Cowboys favor, the one big trade-off is that the team must now allocate a nice chunk of cap resources to keep him on the roster. Nice things cost money. Whether the organization is willing to shell out that kind of moolah has been a popular talking point around the water cooler of Cowboys Nation. It’s an odd thing to ponder really as Cooper has been everything the team has hoped for within the Cowboys offense. Squabbling over where his final dollar figure should end up feels like semantics. He’s a really good receiver and he’s earned his big contract.
For those arguing against handing out some heavy scratch to Cooper in order to save cap space, one big selling point is the opportunity to land one of the top collegiate receivers in the upcoming NFL Draft. As it looks right now, there are three guys who are projected to go in the top half of the first round, and it’s not unreasonable to think that at least one of those receivers will be available when pick 17 rolls around.
These guys are worth remembering.
The Ball Hawker
You won’t find a better receiver in this draft who is capable of adjusting his body to catch the ball than Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. He’s a super smart player who is hard to bring down in the open field and he is projected to be the top wide receiver in this draft class. Will he fall all the way until pick 17? It’s hard to know exactly what other teams will be thinking, but anything is possible.
The Route Running Specialist
Whether it’s his stature, school, or just some of his eerily similar traits, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy could be a Cooper 2.0. He’s an outstanding route runner who explodes off the line of scrimmage. He makes good catches, but will have his moments of lapses in concentration just as Cooper does at times. And when he gets loose in the open field, he’s very dangerous. Jeudy should be able to hit the ground running at the NFL level.
What a fun thing it is to imagine what a dynamic player like Henry Ruggs III could do in this Cowboys offense. He can flat out fly and is very good both on the outside and in the slot. However teams choose to use him, Ruggs is going to be a cause for concern for opposing defenses. He’s not as refined as the other two guys mentioned, but he has enough traits to go along with that blazing speed to be a nice addition to any offense.
All three of these young receivers are very talented and should be in strong consideration should they still be available when the Cowboys are on the clock, and this claim still holds true when Cooper gets inked to his long-term deal. Talent is talent, and good drafting teams collect it, even if it doesn’t address their most pressing need. You can’t tell me that a trio of Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ruggs III wouldn’t bring about another level of excitement to this Cowboys offense.
So, rather that using all that great first-round talent to rationalize letting Cooper walk, instead - think of possibilities of what this team would look like if one of these players was added to the position group. The Amari, the merrier. And if a better player from another position is the choice, no sweat - they’ll still have Cooper.